The Magistrates court on Wednesday 18 October 2017 acquitted a Chiredzi man who had been on trial for allegedly insulting some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers, whom he accused of collecting funds from members of the public through corrupt means.
32 year-old Zephania Virimai, who resides in Tshovani high-density suburb in Chiredzi in Masvingo province, had been on trial since last month after he was arrested on 01 August 2017 and charged with undermining police authority as defined in Section 177 (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 09:23.
Virimai, who was represented by Blessing Nyamaropa of ZLHR and who pleaded not guilty when trial commenced on Thursday 14 September 2017 before Chiredzi Magistrate Tafadzwa Mhlanga, was arrested on 01 August 2017 for allegedly insulting two ZRP members namely Lazarus Nyahonzo and Slyna Nyamaropa, whom he accused of depositing funds into a local financial institution collected from members of the public through corrupt means.
However, on Wednesday 18 October 2017, Magistrate Mhlanga acquitted Virimai after ruling that the state had failed during trial to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt against the 32 year-old Chiredzi resident. Magistrate Mhlanga also ruled that the evidence of the state witnesses who testified during the trial was inconsistent and therefore he could not convict Virimai.
Prosecutors had claimed that Virimai insulted the law enforcement agents by saying “Mbavha idzo ngadzibvepo, which prosecutors translated to mean “Thieves move away from there” as they were queuing up in a banking hall.
After realising that Nyahonzo and Nyamaropa were unmoved by the alleged insult, Virimai reportedly intensified the verbal attacks on the ZRP officers by saying “Zvimapurisa zvinobhenga mari yecorruption”, which prosecutors translated to mean “Rogue police officers who bank corruption money”.
Prosecutors had charged that because of Virimai’s conduct, there was a real risk of engendering feelings or hostility towards such police officers or the police force or exposing the ZRP officers to contempt, ridicule or low esteem.